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How graduate apprenticeships helped tech firm upskill and build for the future

It’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week, marking the benefits apprenticeships bring to individuals, employers and the economy meeting critical skills gaps.

Peter Proud – CEO and founder of Edinburgh-based digital technology company Cortex Worldwide Ltd – shares his top benefits of employing apprentices, and why he would recommend apprenticeships to any employer looking to grow their organisation.

Develop skills for the future

One of the challenges we have faced as a business is lack of skills when it comes to the software industry. We know how difficult it is to recruit, develop and retain the right talent, so we decided to upskill our own and protect our future through apprenticeships.

With our Graduate Apprentices, we’re able to recruit the right people with the right attitude and then provide them with hands-on experience they need to progress their technical skills while working towards their qualification at university.

At the end of the process, we have a team of qualified professionals who have all the training, skills and experience Cortex needs to keep growing and innovating.

Diversify your business

There’s much more to software development than some people think. It’s not just a bunch of geeks hacking away in a bedroom, it’s a social subject. It’s all about working well as a team, so ensuring we have diversity and the right mix of skills, people and personalities is key.

Supporting more females into technology careers is important and we’ve managed to recruit two females into roles as Graduate Apprentice Software Engineers. We also have an apprentice who is an armed forces veteran doing a Cyber Security apprenticeship and he’s brought great discipline into the function beyond anything we’ve seen before.

It’s easier than you think

We found the process to becoming an apprentice employer to be very easy and I’d encourage any employer to get involved, whatever the size of their business. It’s a hybrid approach, where the university brings the academic side of the training and we as the employer bring the job and the practical side. By working together, we deliver the best training for the apprentices.

The value of fearlessness

On top of reducing recruitment costs and increasing retention, apprentices have brought to our business a fresh approach, enthusiasm and desire to succeed. They’re also fearless and not afraid to ask the ‘daft’ or harsh questions, which are invaluable skills in a technical business like ours where innovation is so important.

A different route to a great career

As a learner, a Graduate Apprenticeship gives you access to great education, leaves you without student debt and gives you an advantage over people who go down the traditional university route. Through a Graduate Apprenticeship you already have an employer, no student debt, your salary’s higher and you have a springboard to a better, more fruitful career.

Focus on apprenticeships

Apprentices now make up a fifth of the Cortex team and are part of our ongoing plans for growth. We’re already thinking about the next intake, what we need and the opportunities we can give.

As a nation, aspiration, inspiration, education and opportunity are the four most important things for making us successful in the future. I would just urge the Scottish Government to increase its focus on pushing apprenticeships and urge employers to embrace them in their business.

To discover how apprenticeships can deliver the skills and talent your organisation needs, visit


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